Cameron to support Tusk for Council president at EU summit

Donald Tusk. Warsaw, 14 May. [Kancelaria Premiera/Flickr]

British Prime Minister David Cameron is prepared to support the Polish prime minister, Donald Tusk, as the next president of the European Council, according to the The Guardian

By suggesting Tusk’s name for fellow EU leaders at the summit in Brussels on Saturday (30 August), Cameron hopes to influence the incoming federalist European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, with a candidate supporting a clear EU reform agenda.

Tusk has previously stated that he is not interested in stepping down as Poland’s prime minister. However, according to The Guardian, Cameron and Tusk discussed his candidacy and the summit over phone on Monday (25 August).

Cameron believes that Tusk, who is from the centre-right, could balance the federalist ideas of Juncker. The British prime minister also believes that it would be good for the leader of the largest of the new member states to take on the EU top job, The Guardian said.

While centre-left leaders are hoping that a leader from their group would assume the Council Presidency, Britain hopes that the centre-left will settle for the foreign policy role which could go to Federica Mogherini, the Italian foreign minister.

On Monday, Juncker also suggested that Jonathan Hill, Cameron’s candidate to be Britain’s next European commissioner, would not secure an economics portfolio demanded by Downing Street. Sources close to Juncker told the Daily Telegraph that the incoming European Commission president was disappointed by the failure of Britain and other EU member states to nominate a woman.

>> Read: EU summit to only decide Van Rompuy and Ashton successors

On Tuesday, sources told EURACTIV that Saturday’s EU summit is only going to name the successors of the current Council president, Herman Van Rompuy, and the EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton.

Cameron’s spokeswoman said Britain would support a candidate who is open to the prime minister’s reform agenda. “Our overall objective, as we approach these discussions at Saturday’s European Council, will be making sure that we have a candidate that is willing to work with Britain to address our concerns in the coming years.”

Cameron’s support for his Polish counterpart shows that relations have been patched up between London and Warsaw after Tusk’s spokesperson claimed that he had “fucked him [Cameron] up good” over plans to curb access to UK benefits.

A day after the EU Parliament elected Jean-Claude Juncker to head the European Commission, the 28 EU leaders gathered in Brussels on 16 July to discuss who will become the next European Council President and EU's foreign affairs chief.

The summit however was a failure, as Eastern EU countries argued that no decision could be taken on the two senior positions before they knew what portfolios would be assigned to "their" national commissioners.

In what appears to be a complex puzzle, EU leaders agreed to meet again at the end of August to agree on a "package" of appointments. In the meantime, each member country has been asked to put forward their candidate for the Commission.

The Commission is subject, as a body, to a vote of approval of the European Parliament. The College of Commissioners is then formally appointed by the European Council acting by qualified majority.

>> Read our LinksDossier EU Top Jobs: Who is next? and topic page on EU Top Jobs

  • 28 Aug.: EU ambassadors meet to prepare the extraordinary EU summit;
  • 30 Aug.: Extraordinary EU summit;
  • First and second week of September: Juncker tables list of Commissioners, of attributions;
  • October: European Parliament votes to approve or reject new Commission College as a whole
  • 1 Nov.: Target date for the new Commission to take office

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